- BC Games
Coquitlam Centre sees drop in theft from autos but shoppers should still be careful
Malls are busy places for shoppers as the holiday season gets into full swing. But thieves are also at work, and consumers must be wary.
Coquitlam RCMP advises people to remove anything of value from their car — especially Christmas purchases.
"When you go back to shopping, thieves are shopping from your cars," Cpl. Jamie Chung said.
Although police haven't noticed any increase in theft from autos in the last two weeks since the holiday shopping season began, Coquitlam Centre mall security says the problem still exists and measures have been taken to combat crime.
“In the last three years Coquitlam Centre has seen an 84% decrease in reported thefts from autos. We still recognize that the risk of opportunistic crime in parking lots increases during the holiday season and we combat this by substantially increasing our uniform guard presence in the parking lots for the month of December," stated Laird Lynch, Concord Security supervisor, in an email to The News.
As well, the multiple cameras have been placed on the mall's exterior walls and are used by security personnel to monitor crime.
"Police organizations have made it a priority to deter auto crime, and initiatives like the Bait Car program combined with campaigns to heighten people's awareness of actions to take to reduce their risk by not leaving anything valuable in their vehicles, have been very successful,” Lynch added.
POP CAN STOLEN
But a thieve's definition of valuable can depend on their need and the opportunity that presents itself, according to the RCMP.
"We've had reports of thieves breaking into cars for a pop can, it's only worth five cents but it's valuable to someone," said Cpl. Chung.
Cpl. Chung said theft from autos can occur anywhere but people who leave purchases in cars while they shop are inviting trouble. Locking the car door and parking in a well-lit, highly visible area is also important.
Coquitlam Centre offers 13 lockers near Guest Services, Level 1 by Hudson's Bay for shoppers (they cost $2) and RBC is offering a parcel and court check at its Avion Holiday Boutique near the food court.
These services are available for free to RBC Visa Avion cardholders but people without the card store their coats and parcels with a donation to Share Family and Community Services.
Meanwhile, Canadian Direct Insurance offers the following advise to shoppers:
"Your car can get broken into in less than a minute, so a quick stop at the store gives thieves ample time to make their move," said Colin Brown, chief operating officer of Canadian Direct Insurance.
The following items are commonly stolen: GPS units, sunglasses, gym bags, purses, backpacks, tools and toolboxes, garage door remotes, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and loose coins and change.